Chapter 24: World War II section 1: a prelude to Global War A. The Rise of Fascism

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Chapter 24: World War II

Section 1: A Prelude to Global War

A. The Rise of Fascism - the peace terms of WWI and worldwide economic depression led to political instability in many nations.

  • Fascist governments came to power in Germany under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini.

  • Within their own countries, these governments suppressed civil rights and any political opposition to their rule. They carried out programs of building up their militaries and believed that the interests of the people were subservient to the needs of the nation.

  • Hitler and Mussolini also viewed conquest of other lands as a way of making their countries great.

  • In 1936, Germany and Italy formed an alliance that would later include Japan and become known as the Axis Powers.

B. Axis Aggression – In 1935, Italy began invading North Africa, starting with Ethiopia.

  • In 1936, Hitler had the German army began taking over neighboring territories, including Austria and Czechoslovakia.

  • Britain and France at first responded with a policy of appeasement – giving in to Hitler’s demands for territory in hopes of avoiding war.

  • When Hitler’s army invaded Poland in September of 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

  • By June of 1941, Germany had gained control of most of France and Britain stood alone in opposition to the Axis Powers.

  • In Asia, Japan began invading China in 1931 and by 1940 had gained control of many areas in the Pacific.

C. America’s Response – at the start of the war, the U.S. was officially neutral and many Americans called for a policy of isolationism.

  • Congress passed a series of Neutrality Acts that forbade the sale of weapons to warring nations and restricted sale of other supplies to a “cash and carry” policy.

  • Despite the strong isolationist sentiment in America, Roosevelt felt that U.S. involvement in the war was inevitable and began to push for measures that would aid the Allies as well as prepare the U.S. for war

  • In 1940, Roosevelt gave Britain 50 aging U.S. ships in exchange for rights to build naval bases on British territories. In 1941, he had Congress pass the Lend-Lease Act allowing Britain to obtain military supplies from the U.S. without paying up front for them.

  • In response to Japanese aggression, Roosevelt began increasing the size of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific.

  • In 1940, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, establishing the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.

D. U.S. Enters the War – in August, 1941, FDR had a secret meeting with Winston Churchill to discuss possible U.S. entry into the war. They signed the Atlantic Charter, spelling out Allied goals for the war. The major goal would be to assure that, in the future, all nations would be safe from aggression.

  • Pearl Harbor – on the morning of December 7, 1941, Japan launched an air attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. 2,400 Americans were killed, and many U.S. ships and airplanes were destroyed.

  • FDR referred to Japan’s attack on the U.S. as, “a date which will live in infamy,” and called on Congress to declare war on Japan.

  • A few days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Section 2: The Road to Victory in Europe

Beginning of U.S. Involvement- Roosevelt and his advisers decided to concentrate most of their efforts on winning the war in Europe, and then they would concentrate on defeating Japan.

  • When the U.S. entered the war they were allied with Britain, led by Winston Churchill, and the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin. France had been taken over by the Axis Powers.

U.S. Armed Forces- would eventually grow to 15 million troops.

  • The Armed Forces reflected America’s diversity, containing about many Mexican, Native, and eventually Japanese Americans, as well as almost a million African Americans.

  • Minorities served mostly in segregated units, and were at first limited to support roles. Eventually minorities became involved in combat duty.

  • About 275,000 women joined the military serving various support roles.

Fighting in Europe- the first U.S. forces began fighting in North Africa in 1942 against German and Italian forces led by General Erwin Rommel.

  • By summer of 1943 the Allied forces had won control of North Africa.

  • In July of 1943 U.S. forces began invading Italy from the South, and Mussolini was overthrown by the Italian people. German forces would continue to fight to control Italy until 1945.

June 6, 1944: D- Day­- the invasion of France by U.S. and British troops began. It included 23,000 airborne troops, and 150,000 troops making an amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy.

  • After intense fighting, Allied forces were able to push back German defenders and establish a beachhead for landing more troops and equipment.

  • Within a week 500,000 allied troops had entered France, and began to push the German forces eastward.

  • By late August, Allied forces had liberated Paris.

  • In order to defend their homeland the Germans launched a counteroffensive in December, 1944, known as the Battle of the Bulge.

  • After this counteroffensive was defeated, it was now only a matter of time before Germany was conquered. British and American forces were advancing from the West, and the Soviet Army was fighting its way through Eastern Europe towards Berlin.

  • On April 12th 1945, Roosevelt died of a heart attack leaving Harry Truman as President, after having been Vice President for only 83 days.

  • On April 30th 1945, Adolph Hitler committed suicide.

  • On May 8th, known as V-E Day, Germany surrendered unconditionally.

Section 3: The War in the Pacific

The U.S. began engaging Japan in Naval battles almost immediately after Pearl Harbor.

Battle of Midway, June 4, 1942- was a naval battle in which the U.S. destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers, severely limiting Japan’s ability to wage an offensive war. This was an important turning point in the Pacific War.

  • After Midway, the U.S. practiced a strategy of island hopping, or fighting to gain control of one pacific island after another to get closer to the Japanese mainland to launch an attack.

Iwo Jima and Okinawa- These were two islands very close to Japan. The U.S. planned to use them to launch a large scale invasion of Japan.

  • The Japanese defended these islands fiercely, knowing that they were the key to defending their homeland.

  • The U.S. suffered about 75,000 casualties in the battles for these two islands. This would influence the decision to use the atomic bomb, instead of launching an invasion of Japan.

Potsdam- while at a conference with Churchill and Stalin, Truman was informed that the Manhattan Project had successfully developed the Atomic Bomb. Truman warned Japan to surrender or perish.

  • On August 6th 1945, a U.S. plane dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later another was dropped on Nagasaki. About 300,000 Japanese were killed in the bombings.

  • Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945 (V-J Day).

Section 4-The Holocaust


  • In the 1930’s, the Nazis began to persecute Jews in Germany.

  • The Nuremberg laws deprived all Jews of citizenship.

  • Jews were expelled from jobs and schools and forced to wear the Star of David, an ancient Jewish symbol so they could be easily identified.

  • After war broke out, the Nazis extended these policies to the lands that they conquered.

  • To control the Jewish population in Poland and the Soviet Union, the Nazis forced Jews into designated areas of cities called ghettos.

  • The largest ghetto was in Warsaw, where 500,000 Jews were kept.

  • Thousands died in the ghettos from hunger, disease, and the cold.

  • From the populations of occupied countries, Nazis sent millions into concentration camps and massacred millions more.

  • Between 1939 and 1944, about 7.5 million people were deported to Germany and forced to work in factories, fields, and mines.

The Holocaust

  • Nazi leaders secretly agreed to the “final solution”–the Nazi code word for the destruction of all European Jews.

  • Beginning in 1941, Nazi leaders carried out a plan aimed at the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe.

  • Over the next four years, the Nazis murdered more than 6 million Jews.

  • This mass destruction of the Jewish people based on racial grounds has become known as the Holocaust.

  • Another 6 million people, including Slavs, Gypsies, Poles, and Ukrainians were also killed by the Nazis.

United Nations

Was created by the Allies towards the end of the war as an international peacekeeping organization. (Collective Security)

It would be headquartered in the U.S. and would help to regulate international relationships. It would also carry out humanitarian efforts and help coordinate international economic activity.

  • The UN would be organized into a General Assembly of all nations, and a Security Council of 11 nations, five permanent (U.S., Soviet Union, Britain, France, China) and 6 rotating members.

  • The Security Council has control of the U.N. ability to use military force. Each member nation has the right to veto any proposed U.N. action.

WWII Diplomacy Reference Sheet (Chapter 24)
Atlantic Charter - August 1941

  • Roosevelt and Churchill agree to a common set of war goals that includes self determination and freedom from aggression for all nations. Stalin also signs the charter.

Casablanca, Morocco - January 1943

  • Roosevelt and Churchill agree that nothing short of the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers will be accepted.

  • They also decided to delay the proposed invasion of France and instead to invade Italy from the south. (This greatly angered Stalin.

Tehran, Iran - November 1943

  • Roosevelt and Churchill promise to launch invasion of France by mid 1944.

  • Stalin promises that the Soviet Union would declare war against Japan following an Allied victory over Germany

The Yalta Conference - February 1945- as victory in Europe neared, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met to discuss Postwar Europe and reached a number of important agreements.

1. Further settled plans for the creation of an international peacekeeping organization (United Nations)

2. Germany would be partitioned into four zones of occupation, one for each of the four major Allies. (U.S., Soviet Union, Britain and France) The zones were to be reunited at a later time. (The Soviets later reject this plan and keep their zone seperate)

3. The Soviet Union confirmed its intention to enter the war against Japan.

4. Stalin reluctantly promised to allow free elections in the Eastern European nations that the Red Army now occupied after liberating them from Germany. This promise would not be kept.
Potsdam, Germany - July 1945 - This was Truman’s first conference with the other allied leaders after taking over the Presidency in April.

  • Truman is informed by U.S. officials of the successful test of the atomic bomb.

  • Disagreements begin to arise between the western allies and the Soviet Union regarding post war Europe.

  • Truman and Churchill decide to block Stalin’s demands for massive economic reparations from Germany. This leads Stalin to decide to keep the Soviet Zone separate when re-unification is proposed.

  • It is clear following this conference that the U.S.-Soviet Alliance is transforming into a bitter rivalry.

Chapter 25, World War II at Home

Section I – Shift to Wartime Production

During WWII the U.S. economy became focused on producing goods for war, similar to what had taken place during WWI. This shift to wartime production, beginning around 1940, boosted the economy and finally brought an end to the Great Depression.

  • American factories converted their operations from producing consumer goods, such as cars and refrigerators, to making war goods, such as planes and bombs.

  • The use of improved manufacturing techniques, such as assembly lines and specialization of labor, allowed the U.S. to produce enormous amounts of ships, aircraft, armaments, and other needed supplies.

  • The institution of the peacetime draft in 1940 and the subsequent U.S. entry into the war in 1941 led to a labor shortage.

  • Women and minorities were again presented with increased employment opportunities and were encouraged to take jobs in war industries.

  • The government took a larger role in directing industry and the economy in general, as it had done during WWI.

  • The government set up agencies, often with broad powers - such as the War Production Board (WPB) and the Office of Price Administration (OPA).

  • The government instituted a program of rationing for food, gasoline, and other consumer goods.

  • To guarantee profits to businesses that participated in war production, the government instituted a “cost-plus” policy for military contracts, paying companies for their production costs, plus a percentage of those costs as profit.

  • The American public was again urged to contribute to the war effort in numerous ways: controlling consumption, recycling needed materials, planting “victory gardens,” and buying war bonds.

  • The Office of War Information produced posters, and films urging Americans to do their patriotic duty by cooperating with government controls and requests.

  • Financing the War – the cost of WWII to the U.S. government was about $321 billion

  • Much of the cost of war was paid for through higher taxes. The Revenue Act of 1942 raised taxes and increased the number of taxpayers from about 13 million to 50 million.

  • War bonds financed about $156 billion, and the government also took out loans from banks and other sources.

  • This government spending of money beyond its revenues is known as deficit spending.

Section 2 – Daily Life on the Homefront

Americans followed news of the war from newspapers and, especially, by listening to radio.

  • For entertainment, people increased their reading of books and magazines, and millions of Americans attended movies.

  • Sports, especially baseball, were also popular entertainment attractions.

  • Americans dealt with rationing and shortages of many consumer goods, as supplies were sent to Europe and the Pacific for the armed forces.

Section 4 – The Struggle for Justice at Home

In a speech in 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt urged employers to end discriminatory practices against minorities and women. These groups did experience increased economic opportunities during WWII; however, many discriminatory practices remained.

  • Women and minorities were paid less than white men and were kept out of higher level jobs.

  • Jim Crow laws in the South continued to enforce racial segregation.

  • During the 1940s, over 2 million African Americans left the South for Northern cities. In the North, however, the still faced discrimination in employment, housing, and social settings.

  • There were many businesses that not only refused to hire African Americans, but also refused to serve them. This discrimination in the U.S. was particularly frustrating now that thousands of African Americans were fighting the war in Europe and the Pacific.

  • Japanese Americans – faced the worst discrimination during the war, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The majority of Japanese living in America had been born in the United States.

  • Many people felt that Japanese Americans could not be trusted and that they would spy for Japan and sabotage the U.S. war effort.

  • In 1942, Roosevelt authorized the War Department to relocate any people on the West coast that it viewed as a possible threat.

  • The War Relocation Authority sent about 110,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps away from the Pacific coast. They were usually very rudimentary camps located in isolated areas.

  • When they were sent to internment camps, Japanese Americans often lost their homes, businesses, and other property.

  • Korematsu v. United States – a Japanese American named Fred Korematsu argued that internment was a violation of his civil rights. The Supreme Court ruled against Korematsu, stating that relocation was justified as a temporary military necessity. The dissenting opinion stated that relocation was obvious racial discrimination.

  • Despite the discrimination against them, thousands of Japanese Americans served in the American armed forces. The all Japanese 442 Regiment won more medals for bravery than any other unit in U.S. history.

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